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The Shark Caller

The Shark Caller

Published: 4 Feb 2021

Paperback / softback, 368 pages

Recommended for age 9+

By Zillah Bethell

Illustrated by Saara Soederlund

Published by Usborne Publishing Ltd

Regular price
£5.90
Sale price
£5.90
Regular price
RRP £7.99
Unit price
per 

Dive beneath the waves with this spell-binding adventure of friendship, forgiveness and bravery, set on the shores of Papua New Guinea, perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell and Eva Ibbotson.

"I want to be able to call the sharks. Teach me the magic and show me the ways. "Blue Wing is desperate to become a shark caller, but instead she must befriend infuriating newcomer Maple, who arrives unexpectedly on Blue Wing's island.

At first, the girls are too angry to share their secrets and become friends. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, they must journey together to the bottom of the ocean to brave the deadliest shark of them all...

Tagged cultural traditions and friends and school

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  • The Shark Caller
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  • Wild Child : A journey through nature
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  • The Boy Who Met a Whale
  • The Last Bear
  • The Shark Caller
  • Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad
  • How to Save the World with a Chicken and an Egg
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  • The Life and Time of Lonny Quicke
  • The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh
  • The Three Impossibles
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  • The Incredible Record Smashers
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency Book 1
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  • The Greatest Inventor
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Reviewed by Rebecca Simpson-Hargreaves

The Shark Caller is a story of ancient magic, adversity and triumph, superbly written by Zillah Bethell. She skillfully weaves her type of magic, which sees the reader make real connections to the main characters in the tale. You will feel their happiness, their frustrations, their loss; you may cry; you will certainly smile; this is a book not to be missed.

We are introduced to the main character of Blue Wing as she embarks on a boat trip with her ‘waspapi’ Siringen. Tasked to take a tourist to shark waters the story begins to unfold as we learn that her guardian is a magical shark caller and that Blue Wing longs to be one too to avenge her parents’ death. Other key characters are a professor and his daughter Mabel who have come from America. Mabel also has suffered the loss of her mother and is not happy at first for being taken away from the life she loved by her father. The relationship between the two children develops, and we share in their arguments, their awe and wonder and their navigation of life’s challenges.

The book is well written, and though there may be some hesitancy in recommending a book to children that deals with the loss of parents, there is no need to worry, the reader is in good hands. Zillah Bethell’s writing supports and carefully navigates you through the ups and downs which are interwoven with magic and history. The use of key Papua New Guinea phrases helps to situate yourself on Blue Wing’s island. It’s also fair to say the ending is quite something!

The Shark Caller is most suited to upper KS2 and beyond. It deals with themes such as friendship, family, exploration, death and environmental awareness. This is a book that would be better recommended as a personal read if read below year 6. It offers much for the classroom in terms of supporting geography, science and SMSC/PSHE.

 

I am a lecturer in Primary Education specialising in English at the University of Manchester. Lover of picture books, poetry, non fiction and fantasy. Passionate about using children's literature to develop children's empathy, self-awareness and social justice and human rights.
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